If you’re reading this, you’re probably aware of the exciting news that The News-Letter is back in print.
After being forced to shut down the presses due to COVID-19 in March 2020, we are thrilled to finally bring the newspaper back into our readers’ hands. Over the course of our two-year hiatus, we’ve had the chance to reflect on what print media means to us in an age of digital journalism. Now that we’re all back on campus, we believe it’s more important than ever that we continue as a print publication.
Since the pandemic started, The News-Letter has been publishing online on a daily basis, with our internet presence expanded through our social media platforms and, more recently, a podcast and a TikTok. Publishing daily has enabled us to be more flexible in our coverage, reporting on breaking stories and broadcasting them online more quickly.
Much of our audience relies on online news media sources. According to the Pew Research Center, 86% of Americans get their news digitally, compared to only 32% who read print media. Consequently, more than one-fourth of U.S. newspapers — over two thousand publications — have folded since 2004, with more than 360 closing in the last two years alone. Even the largest national publications have seen steep circulation declines, as online memberships replace print ones.
Given this massive shift in the media landscape, it may seem strange that The News-Letter is returning to print, but we believe print has many irreplaceable advantages that amplify the impact of journalism.
While online journalism has increased information accessibility, it has also lowered journalistic standards and made the proliferation of misinformation more prevalent. In addition, the ease of online publication means that outlets can change articles after they go live.
Print allows us to serve as record keepers for the Hopkins community and ensure that these records will be preserved. If we stopped paying our hosting platform, our work would be lost. Meanwhile, our print issues dating back to 1897 will forever be available from the Sheridan Libraries.
Print holds us to a higher journalistic standard, forcing us to think deeply about the work we produce, why it matters and who it aims to serve.
We’ll be the first ones to admit that publishing exclusively online has been easier on our patience and our budget. Creating a print issue is costly, time-consuming and often headache-inducing. But the payoff is well worth it all.
Print increases The News-Letter’s visibility. When we exclusively publish online, readers don’t just stumble across our pieces — they have to actively seek out our website or follow one of our social media accounts. But with print, students or professors can pick up a copy anywhere across campus and read an article or two while sipping on a latte in Levering.
Particularly, at a school like Hopkins, the student newspaper needs to have a strong presence. We know it's been said before, but Hopkins lacks school spirit. We don’t have a strong, unifying force like other universities. It can be difficult to know what’s going on with other campuses, clubs or academic departments. The News-Letter bridges these worlds and keeps readers apprised of their community.
Our return to print also feeds our sense of nostalgia. Whether it’s vinyl records or wired headphones, many of us have felt that itch for something familiar from the past. Reading a physical newspaper — getting the ink on your fingers, hearing the crinkle of the pages, smelling the groundwood paper — is an indulgent sensory experience that we want to bring back to our readers.
We’ve been anxiously awaiting our return to print for months. It’s been a tough road – we’re a small staff without funding at a school without a journalism program. However, we’re proud of our independent status and all we’ve accomplished on our own. Our editors have been working around the clock to make our goals of going back to print a reality. Each long night spent in our office, the Gatehouse, has brought us a step closer towards having the product of our labor in your hands.
Our work is unpaid, but not unrewarding. We are committed to and passionate about journalism. Our publication is our craft, and we hope you love it as much as we do.